Why in the News Climate Engineering?

UNESCO released its first ever report on the ethics of climate engineering.

What is Climate Engineering?

Climate engineering, or geoengineering, refers to intentional alterations made to the Earth’s natural systems with the aim of mitigating the effects of climate change. This encompasses methods such as Carbon Dioxide Removal (the construction of large-scale infrastructure to capture and store carbon emissions from industrial activities) and Solar Radiation Modification (the introduction of aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight, leading to a cooling effect on the Earth’s surface temperature), all designed to modify carbon levels and sunlight reflection.


What is the importance of Climate Engineering?

  • Simulating natural processes: This makes climate engineering more appropriate for addressing climate change.
  • More time for the transition: This lessens the urgency of cutting carbon emissions and gives more time for the switch to renewable energy sources.
  • Regional Implementation: Because some strategies affordable, they can also be develop at the regional level.
  • Address the climate policy gap: They could close the distance between the goals of climate policy and the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration reductions required to prevent disastrous consequences of climate change.

Possible dangers connected to climate engineering:

  • Environmental Dangers: These techniques, given our current knowledge gaps, cannot yet be relying upon to significantly contribute to meeting climate targets because they may:
    • harm natural ecosystems’ long-term capacity for self-regulation;
    • negatively affect the ozone layer, rainfall, crop production, and ocean acidification;
    • create a technological dependency for addressing climate changes, which could lead to termination shock and accelerate warming, disrupt the water cycle, and destroy biodiversity.
  • Economic Risks: Developing and implementing these technologies expensive, and more patent applications for similar techniques being made in the US and EU, which could make the world’s inequality worse.

What are the ethical issues associates with Climate Engineering?

  • Organised irresponsibility: No institution is able to precisely place blame or assign accountability because of the uncertainties and compounding impacts of environmental concerns. Furthermore, there is a dearth of information regarding their advancement, viability, hazards, and advantages.
  • Distributive justice: Globally distributing risks equally may not be impractical, but there would be procedural challenges in reaching an ethical consensus for appropriate recognition and compensation. Technologies being develop by a small number of countries, businesses, academics, and marginalise communities kept at bay.
  • Moral hazard: When ecological duty not taken seriously and an easier way to address the climate catastrophe made possible, successful execution may have morally unfavourable effects.

Other problems associates:

  • Conflicts may result from the transnational character of climate engineering’s effects.
  • Future national control over technologies that change the environment could be interprets as acts of war.

UNESCO’s guidelines for studying and regulating climate engineering include the following:

  • Governance: Decision-making should take into account the effects on future generations and transboundary impacts. Legislation regulating climate action to prevent harm and prohibit the weaponization of climate engineering techniques to be introduced by states.
  • Inclusion and participation: Women, youth, marginalized groups, indigenous people, and civil society ought to be important players in the formulation and application of policy.
  • Scientific research shouldn’t be interfered by political or economic interests.
  • Building capacity: With regard to climate action, UNESCO should assist Member States in building their institutional, technological, and ethical capacities. Companies and the business community should cooperate closely with the public sectors, act morally, and adhere to international norms.
  • Education, Awareness, and Advocacy: Relevant educational and training programs should incorporate ethical considerations pertaining to climate action into their curricula.


Because of its interactions with the environment and its ability to both introduce new and exacerbate existing dangers, climate engineering may be dangerous. Therefore, it is essential to explore these technologies while having a thorough awareness of their impacts and moral ramifications.

Source: DTE